I haven’t watched the Oscars since 1983, but I did last night with some friends who enjoy them. I tried very hard not to ruin them for anybody. I can honestly say I enjoyed Jon Stewart, who summed it one of my main annoyances when he said, after a sickening self-congratulatory montage of clips from movies where Hollywood tackled prejudice and injustice, mostly against women, minorities and gays: “And none of those things ever happened again.”
Exactly. So they gave Hattie McDaniel an Oscar before people of her color were allowed to ride on the front of the bus. And? So? Hattie McDaniel would have less opportunities in Hollywood now than she had then. Any role originally written for an overweight black woman would be slimmed down in rewrites and given to Halle Berry.
I’m supposed to thank Hollywood for films like Norma Ray (about a female textile
worker trying to unionize a plant) while Hollywood remains the last industry in the US where you can officially, without even flinching or looking abashed, hire someone according to how they look? Where you can look at a spreadsheet and say, “No, this role has to go to a white man” without filling out justification forms in triplicate for the EEOC?
I don’t know why conservatives complain about Hollywood liberalism. No matter what people yammer on about at the Oscars, no one does a better job than Hollywood of promoting White Is Right and Men On Top. Poor Dixie might just have made it if they’d had PR like that in the late 1800’s. But it’s not racism, sexism or bigotry when Hollywood does it. It’s demographics. And you can’t blame them, because the spreadsheet decrees, “It’s what the audience wants.”
And I’m surprised Brokeback Mountain didn’t win best picture. Not because I care – I didn’t see it or any of the nominated films – but because embracing the Big Gay Movie at Oscar time would have given Hollywood a free pass when they get up this morning and go right back to marginalizing gays like usual. Now, when people complain about gay representation on film, Hollywood won’t be able to point at Brokeback and say, “But, but, but we gave them the biggest Oscar of all!” Now people might look at Brokeback as the start of a new openness toward gay themes. Had they given it an Oscar, they could’ve safely closed the book on all that without criticism.
A friend of mine pointed out last night that probably 30-40% of Hollywood is gay – particularly the ones behind the scenes, deciding what we get to see. I pointed out that the other 60% is Jewish, and that’s never stopped them from marginalizing their own people – even sabotaging them on quiz shows to make sure the White Guy Always Wins. I guess I was too stupid to go with the money. When I was told (by people in a position to know) that I had a real future in screenwriting if I would just learn to make the male characters the lead, and have some chick or another screw them, I could’ve stuck around and helped marginalize my gender for a lot more money than I’m making now. (Is this a good time to plug the BetaCandy Vacation Fund? Donations accepted through PayPal.)